I’m about to leave school but I don’t want to attend University. How can experience teaching abroad help me in starting my career?
12 March 2015
Image Courtesy of: University of the Fraser Valley via Flickr
Coming to the end of time in higher education is a daunting prospect, and your thoughts are likely turning to how your profile can set you apart from other school leavers and university graduates. While university students and graduates are undoubtedly demographics that TEFL appeals to, they are far from the only groups that would benefit from the huge range of talents that the course encourages in its young students. The skills and knowledge that can be gained from both the qualification and the experience teaching abroad are extensive and would appeal to a huge range of prospective employers. If you are soon to leave higher education, and are unsure of how to spend that precious time between graduation and the subsequent hunt for a career, there are few other endeavours that would reap as many personal and professional rewards as teaching English as a foreign language. The expertise that can amplified throughout both the training and the teaching itself include, but are not limited to, the following skills:
In order to be an effective teacher, it is essential to hone in on your communication skills, so that you can best voice the curriculum to your students. This is undoubtedly something that would be taught through the course, but also something that would shine through in any applications to institutions or employers. Since good communication and interpersonal skills are appreciated in all industries and areas of work, this is a transferable skill that would help you throughout the rest of your career, whatever path you may choose.
Leading a class of students, no matter the age or background, requires a keen sense of authority and leadership. You’d be amazed what a difference a stretch of time teaching in a classroom can do for a person’s confidence; once you’ve experienced the thrill of imparting valuable skills onto a class of willing students, who may initially have only a tenuous grasp of your shared language, you’ll feel there’s no group you can’t lead.
Putting learning into practise
If you’re leaving school, but flirting with the idea of learning while you work, a TEFL qualification will show how effectively you can learn on the job. Apprenticeships, school leaver programmes and sponsored degrees will all involve a combination of working and training, and TEFL will provide a good example of how you can effectively pursue these two different areas of a career, without letting either area suffer. The course will undoubtedly set you apart from other applicants who will be unlikely to have the same multifaceted experience in their past work.
It’s hard to get your personality to shine through in a CV. Essentially a list of your bankable qualities stripped bare of any individuality, a CV will usually struggle to put across any sense of the character that lies underneath. You might be an ambitious, free- spirited person who is up for any challenge, but it’s hard for this to come across in an application for a job, past telling the reader these qualities on paper. However, experience abroad in an environment that you may not otherwise be accustomed to would give any reader a keen sense of your adventurousness and willingness for a challenge. Employers don’t just want clockwork employees, who can simply do the job they are assigned and nothing more, they want ambitious and go- getting co-workers who would be a pleasure to work with. And if you’ve spent time teaching abroad, I’m sure you’d have some great stories to tell!
One often-overlooked edge that university graduates have over school leavers is their ability to produce evidence of transferable skills and adaptability. Indeed, employers are often uninterested in the skills that a graduate hones through the actual studying for their degree, rather, it is these extra- curricular exhibitions of skill and expertise that really jump off of the page. Universities bend over backwards to provide their students with opportunities to exhibit their professional skills, through such endeavours as Study Abroad and student-run societies. TEFL provides non-university graduates with the ability to demonstrate the same skills, without having to commit to a degree, and will invariably be a great talking point in any interview.
Benjamin Moffat is a final- year student studying for his BA in English Language and Literature at King’s College London, and has experience teaching English to students in Cambodia.